The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging physicians to be on the lookout for patients with symptoms of a potentially fatal infection called melioidosis. It’s caused by a bacterial called Burkholderia pseudomallei, found in an aromatherapy spray sold -- and recalled -- by Walmart.
The product -- Better Homes and Gardens-branded Essential Oil Infused Aromatherapy Room Sprays with Gemstones -- was tested by the CDC and found to contain Burkholderia pseudomallei. The CDC says its investigation links the product to the deaths of four people in different states.
“The contaminated product linked to the four cases is the Better Homes and Gardens-branded Essential Oil Infused Aromatherapy Room Spray with Gemstones “Lavender & Chamomile” scent,” the CDC said in its health alert. “This product was sold online nationwide through Walmart and distributed to a limited number of Walmart stores between February and October 21, 2021.”
The agency said testing for the presence of B. pseudomallei is underway for the five other scents under the same brand with Gemstones, including “Lemon & Mandarin,” “Lavender,” “Peppermint,” “Lime & Eucalyptus,” and “Sandalwood & Vanilla.”
Last week, Walmart issued a recall for around 3,900 bottles of the aromatherapy product because it was believed to contain a bacteria that is potentially lethal to consumers who are exposed to it. The product was sold at 55 Walmart stores nationwide, as well as online at Walmart.com.
The CDC advises consumers who bought the recalled product to stop using it immediately and keep it closed. Instead of discarding it, Walmart says consumers should double bag the bottle in a clean, clear zip-top resealable bag, place it in a small cardboard box, and return it to a Walmart store. The company said it will give consumers a $20 gift card after they have returned the product.
What to do
In the meantime, consumers who have had the aromatherapy product in their homes should take additional precautions. According to the CDC, affected consumers should:
Wash sheets or linens that the product may have been sprayed on using normal laundry detergent and dry completely in a hot dryer; bleach can be used if desired.
Wipe down counters and surfaces that might have the spray on them with undiluted PineSol or a similar disinfectant.
Limit direct handling of the spray bottle and wash hands thoroughly after touching the bottle or linens. If gloves were used, wash hands afterward.
"If you used the product within the past 21 days and develop a fever or other melioidosis symptoms, you should seek medical care and inform your doctor about your exposure to the spray,” the CDC said. “If you do not have symptoms but were exposed to the product in the last 7 days, your doctor may recommend that you get antibiotics (post-exposure prophylaxis) to prevent infection."